I’m going to preface this by saying that I love Digimon. I have watched it ever since it arrived on the Western shores and, to this day, ‘Digimon The Movie’ sits high in the charts of my all time favourite animated feature. In addition to recently re-watching the entire Digimon Adventure television series’ in recent months I even have a tattoo of a generation one Digivice on my arm. So you know that my earlier declaration of love was not a lie. So when it was announced that, in celebration of its 20th anniversary, they would be producing not one BUT SIX films, I was very excited.
‘Reunion’ marks the first of these six films and picks up a few years after the events of Digimon Adventure 02… which in itself picks up a few years after the events of Digimon Adventure 01. Now I love when the creative media does this. I just go crazy over a show that has a time jump as it gives us a chance to see how the characters we have grown up with have themselves grown up. This idea is all the more prevalent in this instalment of the Digimon franchise, for this is the most adult-aimed content they have ever produced.
The original series had a very cartoony art style and over the top characters which matched the demographic at the time. But the kids (like myself) who watched the show are no longer children, and the makers behind ‘Reunion’ have taken that into account. The art style is exceptional in this film, purposely moving away from the exaggerated images of the late 90’s into a type on animation that was breathtaking in places. During a brief flashback in this movie we are shown a flash of what two of the main characters used to look like (Thankfully shown in shadow so as not to be an overbearing contrast) and it just made me realise just how far this franchise and these characters have come.
As the viewers of Digimon grew up over the years so did the characters within it. As I previously stated this is a very grown up version of the anime. Whereas ‘Digimon: The Movie’ was a fast paced rollercoaster ride (Admittedly it was three short films strung together with quick voiceover work to cover the cracks in narrative) this is a very slow character study that focuses more on the thoughts and worries of its characters than it does on its digi-action scenes. Not saying that some Digimon on Digimon fights do not occur, however they are saved for the final act of the film and act more as a metaphor for the internal struggles that one of the characters is going through.
If there is one criticism for this is that, when compared to other iterations of Digimon, this is very slow. But then this is a deliberate move on the part of the creators, don’t forget that there are FIVE other movies after this one. By taking their time with the narrative they are able to explore their characters in depth, their motivations, their hopes and fears.
However by relying on the time provided by the other movies coming out it makes certain events in this film feel out of place and also make it hard to enjoy this as a standalone entity. Unlike ‘Digimon: The Movie’, a film I watched everyday for a month when I was originally bought it on VHS, I don’t think I would just pick this film to watch again if I had some time to kill. The same way that I would not just watch Fellowship of the Ring, I would have to then watch all of the remaining films in the series.
Also, as just stated, by having all of the time that six movies offer them, certain events and plot points are hinted at only to not return. The first instance of this include the second generation of Digidestined, who appear incredibly briefly in a flash at the start of the film. Despite all of the events that go on within ‘Reunion’ none of the first generation even think about asking the second generation for help. Now I understand that this is because the Tri set of films focuses on Gen One, yet when it was established in the TV series that both generations go to the same school, it just felt very odd that none of them even bothered to wondered why Gen Two had not made an appearance.
Another instance involves the main antagonist of the film. I have no idea why it is doing what it is doing. This is obviously going to be the main crux of the six films as a whole but on an individual level it was somewhat infuriating. The film spends a good eighty of its ninety minute run time focusing on the characters, with the last ten minutes hinting at the big bad… then the film just ends. It was quite jarring.
On the whole this film is superb. I have been a fan of Digimon ever since I was in single digits and am so happy that this new iteration is being so faithful to the fans (even if only half of the original voice cast could reprise their roles). However this film begs to be watched in conjunction with the other five. At this point in time only three have been released on DVD/Blu Ray in the West, so it is going to be some time before I receive all of the answers to my questions. But that is okay. I love Digimon so much that I am willing to wait if what they are producing was as excellent as this first film.
Watch again? – Yes. As soon as all six are out it will most likely become a yearly event.
Buy on Dvd/Blu Ray – Yes… I mean, I have already bought it so it shows how good it was.